A Google search for “front porch living” finds only magazine titles, essays, and company sales using the title “front porch” as a marketing metaphor or throw-back.
Front porch swings sit empty. Especially in upper middle-class neighborhoods, isolationism has taken over. Front porches are for real estate curb appeal, providing attractive covered spaces for UPS deliveries, receptacles for decorative throw pillows and unused Southern Living outdoor furniture. They sit as a quaint reminder of how life used to be, our grandparents’ rocking and conversing running through our minds.
Regardless of the cause, these uninhabited spaces signify a loss of community. I want to explore our current mindsets, where we have moved to private backyard living spaces equipped with chimineas, grills and ponds or lap pools. We can be more selective about who and what enters our lives, where our ancestors sat outside with a sense of community, talking with neighbors and taking in the evening.
Has economic independence and pocket access to global media actually killed our human interdependence, while at the same time giving us the illusion of “connectedness”? Is it different in lower-income areas? Perhaps there are some advantages to having less and needing others.
I want to explore these questions in my photo essay, tentatively entitled “Front Porch Culture”. For this project, I have historical and architectural printed research to analyze, as well as local photographic images to capture/create, edit, compile and present. This will necessitate dark room access and equipment, digital editing software, printer(s), mat cutting and framing materials. The final product will be a series of 28-30, 16x20 prints, matted in 20x30 frames, occupying 210 linear feet of wall space.
This project will challenge people of many backgrounds and communities to examine our current, daily human state of independence versus community, hopefully evoking the anticipation of ways in which we can seek that which we have lost. In seeing our own voids, as well as value in particular otherness, we can come together, exchanging experiences and learning from one another through thought-provoking art.
To this end, each photo will be accompanied by a paragraph, or “mini-treatise”, raising questions and thought processes in the mind of the viewer as he or she takes in the works.